Category: GEMA, GEMA Externship

Title:GEMA Externship: Where Are They Now? – Alexandra Canal (C’16), Yahoo Finance

GEMA launched its annual Externship Program in 2003, a unique experience where Georgetown seniors and graduate students spend one week in Los Angeles or New York during spring break meeting with a number of alumni from a variety of fields in entertainment and media. Over 200 students and more than 500 alumni have participated in the program over its first 18 years and many of the externs have gone on to roles across the media landscape. In our series The GEMA Externship: Where Are They Now?, we reconnect with past Externs to find out how their careers have progressed since graduation.

Alexandra Canal (C ’16) is a Senior Entertainment Reporter at Yahoo Finance, covering the latest happenings in Hollywood, media, and celebrity money moves.

Alexandra Canal has reported on breaking news and consumer trend stories, in addition to interviewing A-list celebrities from Grammy winners Jennifer Hudson and Questlove to TV powerhouses like “This is Us’” Justin Hartley, “Succession’s” Alan Ruck and “iCarly’s” Miranda Cosgrove. Canal, who also has extensive experience behind the camera as a live show production manager, graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University with degrees in English Literature, Business Administration, and Journalism.

What was your first “big break” into your industry? Or, what is the most significant experience you have had that has made your success possible?

I’d say my first “big break” was having the chance to pitch and develop my own on-camera segment at Yahoo Finance (appropriately dubbed “Fame and Fortune.”)

About a year after joining the company as a segment producer, I noticed that, while we talked a lot about the business of media, there wasn’t always a set reporter assigned to the beat. I knew I could report the news in a fun and informative way, and crafted a live show segment that broke down the latest headlines involving the intersection of entertainment and business news. After successfully completing an on-air “screen test,” I was given the green light to make “Fame and Fortune” a reality.

I pitched, wrote, produced and reported the once-a-week segment which turned into multiple segments on multiple days and eventually led to my current role as Yahoo Finance’s full-time entertainment and media reporter!

I had always been curious about reporting in front of the camera, but didn’t have many opportunities as a live show producer who often worked behind the scenes.

That one opportunity pretty much changed the scope of my career!

What was your first job?

My first job was a production and booking assistant for People Now, People Magazine’s first digital live show. It was a morning show at the time, and had a very small but mighty team.

After starting the position, I immediately knew I wanted to work my way up to live show producer status. After four short months, I got there (thanks to a lot of overtime hours and going above and beyond my title/responsibilities.)

As a live show producer, I wrote scripts, produced in-studio celebrities, developed TV and social media packages, attended junkets/red carpet events, and more. It was an eye opening experience that taught me a lot about the industry.

What do you do in your job now? What is your favorite part of your current position?

I am currently an entertainment and media reporter at Yahoo Finance, covering the intersection between business and Hollywood. I report on-camera, in addition to writing stories for print. It is a fast-paced, mentally stimulating role that requires me to interview expert sources, analyze earnings reports, and so much more!

My favorite part about my job is being able to break stories live on-air and dive into the numbers and data points that make businesses tick. I also love the interview process, and have had great conversations with CEOs and celebrities alike.

What was the externship experience like for you? Did it have an influence on your career/help kickstart your career?

I absolutely loved the GEMA Externship, and honestly couldn’t imagine my career without it. Through the program, I was able to network and land my first job (which just so happened to be my dream job) at People Magazine, which was one of the first places we visited as externs. I remember being in awe of the control room and the producers frantically finishing up their scripts. It was my first true taste of the media world and I haven’t looked back since!

What part(s) of the Externship did you find most valuable?

The Externship exposed me to different career paths that I didn’t even know existed within the entertainment space. Following my participation in the program, I had the opportunity to be a GEMA Externship scheduler and found that, even through scheduling, I was learning so much more about my industry. It was truly inspiring to see fellow Hoyas crushing it in their respective careers, so I’d say the most valuable part was the informational/networking component. Heck, that helped me land my first job, and gave me confidence that banking wasn’t the only lucrative and meaningful career path out there (which was easy to think, at times, as a Georgetown undergrad).

What was your experience like attending Georgetown? Were there any particularly formative experiences that were special to you?

Georgetown will forever hold a special place in my heart. I still remember how I felt when I read that acceptance letter, as it represented the culmination of so much hard work. I became a much more well-rounded person, and learned so much from my classes, professors and fellow peers. I met some of my best friends to this day, and know that the relationships that were fostered at Georgetown will last me a lifetime.

At school, I was a member of the Georgetown a cappella group, Superfood, in addition to working as a student reporter/producer for The Georgetown Buzz. I also worked as a marketing and communications assistant at the McDonough School of Business. I studied abroad at Georgetown’s gorgeous Villa Le Balze in Florence, Italy and wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything in the world. All of my extracurriculars had a positive impact on me, and exposed me to different types of people and opportunities.

One experience that sticks out is performing at the ICCA competition with Superfood during my Junior year. We made it to the semi-final round and I was awarded the “Best Soloist” award. It was such a fun experience, and once again reaffirmed the lesson that hard work always pays off.

What’s your advice for an undergraduate trying to break into your industry? Is there anything you would tell your younger self now?

My advice is that this industry is SMALL. Keep networking, keep reaching out to people whose careers you admire, and the right opportunity is bound to come your way. People genuinely WANT to help you succeed (especially fellow Hoyas ;))

I’d tell my younger self that it’s all about the journey (not the destination) and that that journey is bound to take many twists and turns that you wouldn’t even expect. Best thing to do is work hard, remember your worth/what you want, and go along for the ride.

Name someone in your career who has been a valuable mentor or role model to you and why?

There are too many to count, but two stick out in particular.

During my first job, I started at the bottom of the food chain and didn’t know much about the production world. My senior producer, Sam, took me under her wing

and constantly gave me advice on my scripts, edits and interviews. I learned A TON in a very short amount of time. We are still super close friends to this day (it’s been 6+ years), and she is an absolute inspiration when it comes to how hard she works at her career.

Another valuable mentor would also be my former boss and the man who hired me at Yahoo Finance, Andy Hoffman. Andy took a chance on me right away (I had zero business news experience), and also gave me the opportunity to report on-camera — something I wanted to do for a very long time. If it wasn’t for him providing me with that opportunity, I’m not sure what my career would look like today.